Homestead Highlight: Tessa

Today I welcome back the homestead highlight series on my blog.  If you haven’t already found inspiration in the other highlights here on the blog, I suggest you pop over here and get caught up.

Want to be featured as a Homestead Highlight? I would love to hear about your experience. For more information follow the link to the information page and share your own homestead here at the Backyard Farming Connection! 

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Today I welcome Tessa to this space

Tessa Zundel is a homemaking, homesteading, homeschooling mother of five small children and wife to one long suffering man.  She currently lives on an acre in suburban Utah with several generations of her family.  She is an advanced master gardener, slowly working on becoming a master herbalist and is the founder of the Salt Lake County Seed Swap.  Most days you’ll find her hauling her good natured, adventuresome children around to learn about herbs, small farm livestock, fiber and other lost arts, whole foods and home education.  There’s always something being tinctured, fermented, built or milked around here – just ask the long suffering man!  To find out what her latest project is, pop on over to Homestead Lady and join the fun!  You can also find her on Facebook, Twitterand Google.

How long have you been backyard farming?   
Since I was a teenager, really.  I’ve had a garden since middle school and I started with bees as a senior in high school.  I got chickens a year after I was married and, well, it was all downhill after chickens – know what I’m sayin’?
What got you started?  
 Gardening is in my blood, generations back – in fact, my maiden name is Gardiner.  I think, though, the thing that made me take the leap to small farm livestock is too much non-fiction reading.  I started learning about whole foods, the effects of processed foods on our bodies and the connection between food and everything else about the human condition.  I also started studying in earnest my religion’s law of health.  I suddenly realized that Hippocrates was right – food should be our medicine and our best medicine is truly our food!  (Totally paraphrasing, by the way.)  Not being independently wealthy, it rapidly became clear that if I wanted to eat a certain way and see to it that my children ate a certain way, I was going to have to raise the clean meat and raw dairy myself.  Now, its a family affair!
What does your backyard farm look like?  
 Right now, we’re on an acre in a suburb of Salt Lake City, Utah.  We’re moving to Missouri in the next few months, though, and we have no idea yet what the new homestead will look like – only that there WILL be one.  I’ve backyard farmed on .14 acres in California (bees, veggie garden, fruit trees, herbs and ornamentals with some grass thrown in) and also on half an acre in North Carolina that had, I kid you not, 140 trees on it when we moved in.  I love the trees of the South! 
Our homestead here in Utah was mostly grass when we moved in but we’ve since added a huge raised bed veggie garden, other large cropping areas that also double as rotational animals enclosures, a small orchard, a children’s garden, an herbal/edible garden, a cutting garden, a chicken yard and several goat pens.  You can hear a little more about Tessa’s space here.
Where is it?  
 In the middle of a residential neighborhood but several of the properties on our street are as large as ours.  I only know of a few others that have gardens and animals but several of us have the space and are zoned for small farm livestock.
What has been your biggest success and biggest mistake?
  Our biggest success has been involving our children in our homesteading ventures.  We home educate and so having them home and taking on large roles in how our homestead is run has been so, so valuable.  They’ve learned incredible life lessons that have just sort of evolved out of what we’re naturally doing around here every day anyway.
Our biggest mistake is really MY biggest mistake and that’s taking on too much at once.  It’s in my nature.  Some years I spread myself too thin and projects get neglected or, worse, the family gets neglected as I chase my to do list.  I’ve learned that you can kill yourself on half an acre as well as you can on fifty acres.  Take a deep breath and hold steady – by perseverance, even the snail reached the Ark.
What plans do you have for the future?  
 Well, since we’re moving to Missouri without any fixed plans, the sky’s the limit.  We’re thinking southern Missouri so I’ll have clay soil to contend with but I’ll have trees and water (two things I’ve missed living in Utah, which is lovely in it’s own way but, still…).  We’re thinking we may end up building a small, as-green-as-possible home.  I’ve reached a place in my life where I’m ready to simplify in a major way – getting rid of stuff, reusing stuff, selling stuff, downsizing stuff and generally developing a new relationship with this idea of having stuff.  So, if anyone has any lead on land, green technology, small builds for big families, etc, feel free to chime in!

3 thoughts on “Homestead Highlight: Tessa”

  1. A very enjoyable read, Tessa and Gretchen. Tessa, I find it so funny that your name was Gardiner! I've met so many people whose names were what they are: e.g. a forester named Forrester, a hunter named Hunter, etc. And so wonderful that your kids are so involved in the farming. Inspiring!

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